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Judy Phillips Memorial Influencers in Aging Award nominee SPARK! at MOWA | By Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County

Washington Co., WI – This May, Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County will announce the winners of the Judy Phillips Memorial Influencer in Aging Award. The award honors Judy Phillips and her legacy of passionate work for senior citizens. It will recognize those in the community whose work demonstrates creative, impactful and strong advocacy for the senior citizens.
SPARK! is a cultural program for people with memory loss and their partners. The program is provided at the Museum of Wisconsin Art and Kathryn Conrow and Laurie Winters, who oversaw the implementation of the program, are nominated for the Judy Phillips Award and Creative Expression for Senior Citizens in helping make a difference in the lives of senior citizens in Washington County.


“The SPARK! program was set up in the beginning to get homebound people with memory loss and their caregivers to engage, get out and just enjoy the museum, the colors and the art,” said Conrow. 

“We found not only did the people who are experiencing memory loss enjoy it, but so did their family members; we had mothers, daughters, sisters, and in the summer, the grandchildren would accompany that client. So, it really became kind of a mini family event, and it gave them opportunities to just enjoy art, even if they had no background in art.”

Conrow said she was able to communicate with people who had as much background in art as she did… which was zero. “It became a fun event for me but even more enjoyable for the families.”

Click HERE to read about Judy Phillips Award nominee Paula Hader

The SPARK! program lived up to its name as people with memory issues were able to connect with something as simple as the images they saw in art.

“Flowers were so simple and we had a lot of gardeners,” said Conrow. “You start talking about gardening and then a light comes on. We had a lot of art in the galleries that had historical scenes of Old Milwaukee and farm scenes and country scenes and when you ask the group how many of you lived on a farm? The hands went up and the conversation started. So, it gave them not only something to look at, but a connection with their own personal lives.”

Click HERE to read about Judy Phillips Award nominees
Tammy Dickman and Mona Dickmann from ADRC
Photo courtesy Museum of Wisconsin Art

Conrow said she was familiar with Judy Phillips and her work in the community, and she was “shocked” but “pleasantly surprised” to be nominated in her name.


“Based on the respect and outpouring of love for her, and her love for the senior community, it just made me feel really good that I was able to touch the lives of some seniors who, sometimes I think are some of the forgotten people in our society,” said Conrow. “We tend to focus more on the youth, and we forget about our elders. 

Click HERE to read about Judy Phillips Award nominee Cedar Community


“A lot of people who are experiencing memory loss aren’t even elders, they’re just beginning to be a bit more isolated. So, getting them out, giving them that chance to smile and enjoy it gave me a lot of joy.”


Click HERE to read about nominees Dave and Lisa Morbeck


Museum of Wisconsin Art executive director Laurie Winters said the SPARK! program is now over a decade old and it has provided a bridge between art and senior citizens.

“We’re very proud to have this long legacy with the SPARK! program going back to 2009 when there were 10 museums that came together to start the program,” she said.

“SPARK! plays a large part in helping lead our senior citizens and grow in a very happy and helpful way. The intent of MOWA was always to be a community center and have programs to help people through each phase of their life and this is all part and parcel of that, and Kathy played a significant role from the very beginning and this award is very deserving.”

The Judy Phillips Memorial Influencers in Aging Award will be May 24, 2022, at the Maurin Center at Lac Lawrann, West Bend, WI.

Awards will be presented for Creative Expression, Community Impact, and Aging Advocacy.

Wendy Wendorf

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